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One more browser: Internet Explorer 9

Today Microsoft released their newest browser: the Internet Explorer 9 (IE9). From now on people and companies can install and use this new browser. As with previous versions and other browsers this raises a simple question for everybody that is involved in web-enabled access to SAP: what will happen when the user is accessing the portal and the integrated applications with this new browser? Will it work? Will the browser render the page correctly or will the SAP system even show a not supported message?

For the SCN forums this means that we will start seeing messages like:

  • ESS won’t show screen X for new users
  • Layout is broken for some users
  • Is IE9 supported?

For the teams responsible for supporting a SAP Portal installation in their company it means to prepare for a new browser. Although not showing up in the PAM ( I believe we can be sure that SAP will start supporting IE9 in one of the next SPS releases. Until then, what can you do to ensure that your users can access the portal while using IE 9?

For intranet portals and companies where the IT department is responsible for distributing the corporate browser this is not a big problem as it takes time to roll out a new browser version (Windows XP is still the default OS in many companies and IE9 won’t run on XP). For those who are running an external facing portal (EFP) or do have an IT department that already rolled out IE9 (or worse: where the users have administrator rights), IE9 ships with – as does IE8 – a compatibility mode. There are 2 modes available:

  • Browser Mode and
  • Document Mode

The interessting mode is the document mode. When the page is broken in IE9 the user can manually switch to the rendering engine. You can also modify the HTML page sent to the user to ensure that IE9 will render the page correctly. You’ll need to put this:




to the response your application and portal are sending. There are several modes available that allow IE9 to render the pages as IE8 or IE7. Inserting this meta tag globally is easy with IIS and Apache, for a standalone SAP Portal it gets a little bit more complicated. Of course you have to ensure that your portal and NetWeaver support at least IE7 or IE8.

When you are using jQuery you have to test if your current version supports the new Javascript engine bundled with IE9 or upgrade to at least jQuery 1.5.1

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  • Very interesting blog about a very real problem.

    “I believe we can be sure that SAP will start supporting IE9 in one of the next SPS releases”

    The main question (and problem) is, in my opinion, why is there such a strong dependency between the browser and support packages levels ?
    This is just wrong.


    • Hi Olivier,

      to a certain level I understand that there are certain dependencies between a browser version and the SP:
      – new render engines for HTML and CSS
      – new Javascript engine
      It makes also sense from SAP’s point of view the only start supporting a new browser after extensive testing (and support and knowledge exchange agreements done in the back with the vendor).

      On the other side the JS and HTML code generated by the portal isn’t W3C and wasn’t made with other browsers than IE in mind. That is home made and surely rooted in the strong focus on IE6 in the beginning of the portal (and IMO in the Microsoft partnership). With the release of 7.3 we can what efforts SAP has done to “clean up the code”.

      I hope that in the future the HTML / JS / CSS generated by the portal will focus more on standards than on products. Microsoft is using the new W3C compliance of IE9 in their advertisements and not product compatibility.


      • Thanks Tobias for sharing.

        Actually, we are having the issue mentioned. We just upgraded our IE into IE9 and we cannot access to our SAP Portal (Sorry, your browser/program is not supported by Web Dynpro!).

        Can you please decribe how to insert the mentioned meta tag:

        globally in order to allow IE9 for a standole SAP Portal? You say that “it gets a little bit more complicated”. Sorry I have no clue and I would very much appreciate some help.


        • Hi Marc,

          the meta tag is meant to inform the IE how to render the page. When you get the Browser not supported message the WD isn’t sending back any content to the browser. What you can try is to insert apply the modification published by SAP (Note: 1347768 and modify your WD server to accept the IE9.

          To tell IE9 to render the page in emulation mode you can try
          a) to add your servers to the compatibility list of IE9 or
          b) write a portal application that will insert the meta tag in the header returned to the browser.

          If b) works depends when the PAR will add the meta tag into the header. Looking at the MS recommendation that meta tag has to be one of the firsts to be loaded by the browser.


          • Thanks Tobias. We are going to stick with the note you recommended until SAP provides another solution or a new Support Package.

            Thanks again, Marc

  • Very interesting blog. Most of the companies have central IT dept to handle browser and also they still on XP. So it wont be a headache for them as they will get time to inroduce new IE in their campany landscape. But i personally liked the feature of emulating it to previous versions of IE which will beneficial for number of users.
  • Hello Tobias,

    Good post.

    Did you try this  document mode switch with IE9 + EP without any issues?

    I ran into few issues.

    I understand IE expects meta tag to be added to response for quirks mode or any other backward compatibility rendering. But in certain scenarios, server(EP) decides which libraries(scripts,css) to included based on browser mode.

    Consider user did not change the browser mode.
    While opening portal using url(http://server:port/irj/portal), server determines which libraries to be included in response html(IE4/IE5/IE6/IE7…etc) based on browser mode. And this is the very first request to server. In the response html, libraries included will be specific to browser mode version(through ).
    For HTMLB, IE9 is assumed to be IE4(age old one which SAP doesnt support) and IE4 specific libraries are included. As a result we get script errors. Libraries like sapUrMapi_xxx.js, popup_xxx.js are not included in that response html.
    We cannot influence this logic as it is hard coded (just found it by de-compiling the java code).

    Few malfunctions are
    when you click on logoff link, nothing happens… no warning and no logoff. Only script errors.
    Another problem is that history on page toolbar will not work.

    Looks like the browser mode(user agent) must be changed before server processes the request.
    I didnt find any notes that suggest otherwise.
    May be workarounds include asking user to change browser mode – document mode change is not enough.
    Or an irj servlet filter to change user agent.